Offers & Services

What do we offer?

The RRRUn focuses on Rapid Reviews, but also produces other types of reviews listed below, considering criteria of urgency, feasibility, and relevance.

We accept a limited number of reviews a year at no cost. Due to time and resource constraints, most reviews are commissioned or conducted as part of competitive third-party funded projects. We welcome enquiries for cooperation with the RRRUn in third-party funded projects or requests for commissioned reviews. Please send your enquiry to: contact.


Our offering:

  • Rapid Reviews, Systematic Reviews, Scoping Reviews, Conceptual Reviews, Evidence Mappings
  • Protocol development and registration
  • Conducting searches and literature management
  • Data extraction and synthesis
  • Quality assessment of studies
  • Meta-analytical analyses and narrative syntheses
  • Preparation of scientific publications and policy briefs

Process and procedure

What is a review?

A review in the field of public health is a systematic approach that summarizes results from primary studies that have already been conducted on a specific topic area in order to compile as much evidence as possible for decision-making or policy advice and to identify possible research gaps. There are several types of reviews, which differ, among other factors, in research methods, the overarching objective, and the processing time required. RRRUn focuses on rapid reviews, but also produces systematic reviews, scoping reviews, conceptual reviews, or evidence mappings, depending on the urgency, feasibility, and relevance criteria.

Rapid Review

Rapid Review is a synthesis of studies that provides timely preparation of information for urgent decisions or questions by simplifying and/or omitting individual steps of the systematic approach.

Systematic Review

Systematic Review is a methodologically and temporally extensive synthesis of knowledge, which is applied especially for sensitive research questions in order to minimize the influence of possible sources of bias in the review preparation.

Scoping Review

Scoping Review is used to assess the amount of available evidence, group or categorize findings, and identify research gaps. This type of review is exploratory and usually addresses a broad question or topic. Scoping reviews can also be used to decide whether it is appropriate to conduct a systematic review or to inform the scope and planning for other types of research and studies.

Conceptual Review

Conceptual Review serves to systematically compile, compare and, if necessary, further develop theories, elements or concepts on public health relevant aspects and terms as well as strategies and characteristics (e.g. resilience, preparedness, quality, and equity) or to identify theoretical and conceptual gaps. These are then used, for example, to inform evidence for population-based interventions and structural health reforms.

Mapping Review

Mapping Review is similarly time-intensive to a systematic review and, unlike a scoping review, is based on a specific research question rather than a broader research topic. Characterized by a visual synthesis, this type of review is particularly suitable for a very diverse and extensive field of research, as well as a starting point for systematic reviews or to identify research gaps.

What is our methodological approach?

The methods used in RRRUn follow the highest scientific standards outlined in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (including guidance on the inclusion of non-randomized intervention studies and reviews of health promotion and public health interventions), the Campbell Collaboration, and the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre), depending on the subject matter and topic of the review.

To achieve a balance between quality, completeness, and timeliness in rapid reviews, the traditional systematic review process is adapted by: (a) limiting the number of databases to be searched to a maximum of three; (b) choosing search terms that are specific (not sensitive); (c) limiting inclusion criteria by date; and (d) by language.

In all other steps, including study selection, quality assessment, data extraction, and synthesis, no adjustments are made to ensure high-quality reviews while maintaining timeliness.

How does the processing take place?

We accept a limited number of proposals for reviews each year. The reviews are prepared by a review team. The team includes:

  • Lead: post-doc; or PhD student under the supervision of a professor
  • Core team: two scientists with significant experience in review development
  • Support team: research assistants or more junior researchers from relevant areas of health sciences who are involved in the relevant steps of the implementation under supervision.

How long does the process take?

The review process is between 12-20 weeks from acceptance of the topic submission and completion of the report. The time frame varies depending on the review type, the scope of the research question, and the literature to be synthesized. The following example is based on a 12-week time frame:

Week 1: Protocol development
Week 2: Systematic search
Week 3-4: Study selection
Week 5-7: Data extraction
Week 8-9: Quality assessment
Week 10: Study synthesis
Week 11-12: Report writing and publication

How are the results reported?

A two-page report with policy-relevant findings will be published in citable format on the Bielefeld university website upon completion of the review. A full report will be submitted to scientific journals for publication. In exceptional cases of high urgency and relevance, the full report may be published immediately in citable format on the University website.

Who steers and coordinates the review unit?

The RRRUn is led by the Department of Population Medicine and Health Services Research (AG 2), in the School of Public Health at Bielefeld University. External academic institutions and health system institutions may serve as collaborating partners. Individuals, health care organizations, public health services, and policy makers may propose topics for review within the RRRUn.